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Picking up speed

Yes, the snow is nearly melted in our valley.  There are still patches under trees and on the north side of the old school house but otherwise we see bare ground, mud puddles and a few spring flowers pushing through.  The women are hard at it trying to get the current quilts finished by the end of April.  That is when things shift for us into the next season.

On April 28, it is Rendezvous in Eureka which mean vendors fill the Historical Village grounds and there is the largest parade of the year down main street.  The old school IMG_2278house will be transformed from the place we quilt all winter into a book sale.  Stop by if you are in town to pick up some great bargains. Then in May school children take their annual trip to visit the museum. We also have a rummage sale, another opportunity for bargains and to get raffle tickets for a lovely quilt we made.  And finally on May 26, the Historical Village announces the summer season.  Everyday until Labor Day, volunteer docents will open all the buildings and are available to provide information to visitors from 1:00 – 5:00pm.

So now we are trying to get the last quilts finished up.  Jana, a guest from the Czech Republic, has been joining us to learn how to quilt and to share her travel adventures with the women as they sew.  Cathryn created a pile of new baby quilts that are perfect to welcome little ones to the world. Sally made some lovely children quilts that are for sale in the museum along with our full size tied quilts and, of course, the beautiful hand quilted ones.  If you are in town for Rendezvous or just ambling through the Historical Village grounds on a sunny afternoon, stop by to learn about our valley’s history and perhaps purchase a quilt to support this remarkable space.

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Thank you Eureka!

This past Friday it snowed. A lot. And it didn’t look good. It wasn’t just the fact that most of us are tired of winter by this point, but the concern that bad roads might hamper people coming to the fundraiser in Trego on Saturday afternoon.  Saturday though dawned better with a bit of sun and so our anticipation became more optimistic.  But you never know do you with these community events if there will be enough people, if its possible to even make the costs of putting the thing on let alone raise funds to help support the Historical Village?  On top of the weather and other unknowns, there were questions about the event itself. We hadn’t really done anything quite like this before. A concert with a band from out of the area (actually The Wardens are from Canada so out of the country!) with a potluck and community jam to follow.  We had decided to do it in Trego because the hall there is so nice with great acoustics and a large kitchen, plus enough space if we did get a real turn out.  But would we? Would people drive from Eureka on snowy roads to support the Historical Village and enjoy this potentially great event?IMG_2226

Al went out early that day to get a fire going so the hall would be warm.  He also plowed the parking lot (thank you so much!).  The band arrived around 1:30 to start setting up.  Quilters and John Linn came a little later to hang quilts and set up tables for selling some handmade items.  With the concert scheduled to begin at 4:00pm, one might hope people would start to show up at 3:30ish but it started very slow.  Finally around 3:45 cars began to pull in and then more cars.  We had to set up extra chairs.  When people were still coming through the door at 4:00, the band decided to start a few minutes late.  What a fabulous turnout!  Over seventy people came to listen to great music, potluck with neighbors and then hang a bit for the jam.  Some people played music, some danced, some talked with friends, some met new people, some tried new foods (Dawn’s outrageous Bhutan momos).

It isn’t only the wonderful turn out but the energy people brought to the event that made it such a great evening.  Lots of laughter and hugs.  We sold a quilt and a box of Mary Louise’s homemade chocolates.  Some folks generously wrote checks to support the Historical Village.  Others asked for information to learn more about the Tobacco Valley Board of History.  And the help that made this all possible!  From John climbing his 10′ ladder to hang quilts to Mike washing dishes and Mircea mopping the floor.  Everyone pitched in to set up chairs and then at the end of the evening, to put chairs away.  Ray got the jam circle going, Ed helped the band carry their things out to the van, Patty and Darrell took trash bags to the dumpsters.  What a special evening…what a special community.  Thank you, Eureka!

Saturday evening in Trego

Late winter in this part of Montana can be gray.  And once we move from constant snow to snow with mud, that grayness feels even more difficult to endure.  Which is why the Historical Village volunteers had the great idea to have a late winter community event that promises to rock your socks and raise some funds for maintaining the Village.

On March 3rd, The Wardens play at the Trego Hall starting at 4pm.  An easy time of day to drive out and catch this great band from Canmore, Canada.  Up in those parts, a Wardens-Promo-3_Credit-Ray-Schmidtranger is called a warden. These three musicians/wardens have worked in the back country around Banff for a lot of years so know mountains and horses as well as music.  Admission for the concert is $8/per with tickets on sale at the door.

We figured once folks come out to Trego to hear good music, they might just want to stay and enjoy themselves a bit longer.  There will be a potluck after the concert (starting around 5:30) and then a music jam.  Ray and Shirley Jacobs met The Wardens recently and encouraged us to bring them to Eureka.  They will be there.  Hope you are too.  If you want a preview of The Wardens, check out their website here.

So mark March 3rd on your calendar and come out for a good time.  Bring a dish to pass if you want to stay for the potluck, and if you play music then please bring your instrument along.  Otherwise come to listen and enjoy this late winter treat.  Oh, and there will be beautiful handmade quilts for sale as well.

Try a bit harder

The holidays are happening. Snow is starting to pile up. Sidewalks are slippery. Bazaar sales at the Historical Village have gone well although of course we hope there will be last minute shoppers on December 22nd.  Last Friday the quilters had their annual party – a potluck and then gift exchange.  The delicious food put everyone in a sleepy mood but we continued sewing until our usual closing time.  Lynda and Sally even set up a second quilt that we will tie next week, a colorful cotton one Cathryn pieced.  Although I am often content to sit and talk rather than sew, the pace is such that I feel compelled to be as productive as the others (no easy task with this group of women).IMG_1830

As usual we are sewing, talking with any visitors who stop by to drop off something or to buy some lovely handmade item, and discussing how to raise money to cover the Village’s costs, and how to get all the things done from archiving to replacing broken pieces of the boardwalk.  It often feels there isn’t enough time for all we need to accomplish but somehow we still manage to listen to stories about families and friends, laugh at Bev’s jokes and grumble if the needle is not going through as easily as we might like.

Amidst the talk, different quilters talk about other volunteer work they are doing – helping with the Winter Bird Count, the library, the thrift store, the church.  Its amazing how these individuals find time to do all this to make our community as good as possible.  There might be a concern when we don’t see younger people stepping up to help with these projects and really in this case, younger is broad.  We not only think about high school students but adults in their twenties to fifties.  Of course there are volunteers but there never seems to be quite enough.  So we hope some folks out there will put volunteering down as a New Year’s resolution.  Once a week for a few hours surely would mean a lot.

Thank you

Are there enough hours in the day to thank everyone who helps in this community? We held our annual fundraiser for the Historical Village last Saturday.  A lovely five course dinner with a Spanish theme served at a private residence on Dickey Lake.  A cellist played during the evening, some volunteers prepared the food while others served it.  As part of the event, a small speech was made later during the meal to thank those who bought tickets, to those who provided the wine, prepared the meal, those who set out tables and chairs for forty people.  At an earlier pointIMG_1320 in the evening, before the first guests appeared, I took a photo of those wonderful women who served the dinner and helped sell tickets prior to the event.

If I count everyone including the couple who helped move the tables, the man who cleaned the terrace, the woman who brought over forty chairs, the next door neighbor who lent us use of  her oven, the owners of the house where the dinner was held, the friend who gave us green beans from her garden for the paella, it would be over seventy people who participated in some way to make this event successful.  And really this is a fraction of all those who help maintain the Historical Village throughout the year.

We might take it for granted that people help out in a small town.  How else can we maintain the museum and the park, run the Scout troop and Little League, do storytime at the local library and walk dogs at the animal shelter? So much that makes this valley great depends on volunteers. And we realize not all small towns have this wealth.  We are fortunate to have people in this valley who truly care.

Recently there was a wild fire near Eureka.  Some people were required to evacuate their homes.  Neighbors offered housing, storage, and pasture for animals for those who had to evacuate. Others donated water and food for the fire fighters.  There was so much donated that the surplus was given to the local food bank.  For all of this, the generosity offered during the fire as well as the generosity shown towards the fundraising dinner – we offer thanks.

Eureka Montana Quilt Show

Yes, in only a few days the annual Eureka Montana Quilt Show will be happening.  My suggestion is you come early like 7:00am to help hang the quilts and enjoy the cool morning of dew and colors. The town is transformed as hundreds of quilts are slowly  hung from Memorial Park down the main street and throughout the Historical Village.  Its truly magical as it happens and you can be part of that magic. Afterwards, volunteers usually stop at Cafe Jax or Four Corners Restaurant for breakfast and then go back out to enjoy the day. Quilts galore (previous years had over six hundred!), vendors, shady spots to sit and soak up the day quickly fill the hours til 4:00pm.  And besides all the activity that goes along with this annual event, there is the Historical Village itself.IMG_0505

All the buildings in the Village will be open throughout the day of the Quilt Show.  So take some time to amble through the museum and the old cabins.  There will also be volunteer quilters at a table in front of the museum who sell raffle tickets.  The winner will be selected at the county fair later in August. The prize is a lovely quilt hand stitched last winter. Needless to say, we will ship it to you wherever you live if you win.  We like getting our quilts out into the world.

Eureka is a special place most of us enjoy calling home.  It sparkles in the winter with snow and the summer is bustling with visitors walking on main street enjoying local businesses. Cyclists from all across America come through sometimes camping in Riverside Park, often stopping for a meal or a milkshake.  But the first Saturday in August when the Quilt Show takes over the town is spectacular.  Eureka is at its brightest!  The colors compete with any rainbow.  The variety of quilts is astonishing.  And the crowds add to the festive sense.  Whether you live in Lincoln County or elsewhere in the state or region, think about coming to Eureka on August 5 this year.  You won’t regret it.

The lilacs are blooming

The lovely quilt with pale green and lilac florals is finally done and put away.  Perhaps we will offer it for sale at the Eureka Montana Quilt Show in August.  Or raffle it off next year. It is easy to imagine it gracing a bed in a guest room or given as a gift to newly weds.  As always, when examining a quilt we take off the frame to ensure there aren’t mistakes, I marvel at the countless stitches, all that wonderful energy  added to the quilt by the women who sewed on it over the months.close quilting

The quilt is in the cupboard now and the old school house is set up as part of the Historical Village museum again.  I stopped by the other day as the museum is always the ideal place to buy postcards of the valley or handmade items.  I was surprised that although it was during regular hours, the museum was closed.  I heard later the volunteer in charge is having a tough time finding enough people to put in an afternoon every week.  It doesn’t sound like much does it?  The museum is open 1:00 – 5:00pm and with a bit of time to open and close all the buildings and such, perhaps four and a half hours. That is what someone would give if they volunteered to help out in the summer (and yes, you are allowed to take vacations): one afternoon a week for four and a half hours.

Before anyone starts to get too blustery about this – four and a half hours out of MY day?!?! – lets think about it.  Last year the New York Times ran an article stating the average American spends five hours a day watching television and then there is the time (additional hours) spent on their tablets, smartphones and computers.  This doesn’t include work time but the leisure time people spend absorbing media.  Could that be the kicker?  Perhaps people think leisure time should be…well….leisurely. It shouldn’t be volunteering.  Perhaps volunteering seems too much like work.  Fortunately as the bubble of Baby Boomers move into retirement age, there are more studies being done on volunteering and its benefits.  Volunteering can keep you physically active, socially connected and mentally stimulated.  So instead of sitting alone on the couch surfing the Net this summer, why not sign up to help at the Historical Village?  Thanks.